Bangalore: As it looks ahead to forming the next Karnataka government, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faces some pressing issues but perhaps none more high-profile than the woes of Bangalore, the state’s capital.
The BJP would need to quickly unclog the city—on ground, by building roads and rail networks, and then convince potential investors to look beyond the city in terms of setting up new factories and offices in tier II cities such as Mysore, Mangalore and Hubli.
India’s tech hub, riding on outsourcing of software services from local and multinational firms, has seen higher economic growth than the national average of 8% in the last few years, but has faced significant constraints in expanding infrastructure.
angalore’s economic growth has been higher than the national average in the last few years, but the city is struggling with inadequate infrastructure, especially public transport (Photo by: Hemant Mishra / Mint)
“It is important to have a stable government. One that acts with a long-term vision and assures that it means business,” says Som Mittal, president of National Association of Software and Services Companies, or Nasscom, India’s software lobby.
Bangalore, which houses Indian firms such as Infosys Technologies Ltd and Wipro Ltd, and the local arms of multinationals such as IBM Corp, accounts for one third of India’s software exports of $40 billion, or Rs1.7 trillion, through March. But, the bulk of the 650,000 workers in such firms travel to their offices in Whitefield and Electronic City on gridlocked roads at an average speed of 10km per hour.
“The city has to expand two and a half times of what it is now by 2018 to meet the growth inspite of it developing locations such as Mysore,” predicts Mittal, quoting a yet-to-be-released Nasscom-commissioned study done by A.T. Kearney just two weeks ago.
“Earlier, the time period (for infrastructure requirement and building it) was in months. There is now a long gap of two to three years,” says Syed Beary, chief executive of Beary Group, a Bangalore real estate developer.
“If you can’t sustain Bangalore, the government will not get the money to spend on building infrastructure in other parts of Karnataka,” said T. Ramappa, secretary general of Bangalore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
For that to happen and to get the Centre’s help in funding these projects, the state government will have to first notify elections for a new expanded council of 145 members for the city, known as Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike. The last council of 100 members was dissolved and elections delayed due to the delimitation exercise and merger of suburbs with the city corporation.
A secretary to the Karnataka government who did not want to be identified, said the bulk of the Rs12,000 crore for improving Bangalore’s infrastructure from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, a Central grant, is yet to be released due to the absence of a city council.